By Philippa Baines
2018 intake: what to know
We’re in the homestretch of SCA and the finish line is in sight. Over the past few weeks, everything is coming together. Partner Dan and I are getting into a good working rhythm, we’re having loads of fun doing it and going on great book crits. There’s lots to be nervous about ¬– some strategies need to be re-thought; art direction needs an overhaul and making sure we stand out from the crowd needs to be thought about. But we’re getting there.
I thought it would be useful to write a few tips down to next year’s intake, to consolidate what I’ve learnt and pass on wisdom.
- Know what you like
Before you reach SCA, I’d say it’s prime to note down what adverts you like. If I had had this north star from the beginning – in the form of ad communications – I’d have had an easier ride.
- SMPs are important and need to have some strong thinking behind them
‘Single-minded propositions’ are offerings of a brand to an audience. They’re one-liners that summarise a product’s solution to a problem. Make sure you don’t just throw in clever lines attached to brand names. You must go through due process to get to an SMP. Don’t sit there and pluck words from your brain that sound funny. Think about problems in product categories, think about which brands have a right to provide solutions. That’s when you’ll hit really interesting SMPs that will actually execute really well. (Fingers crossed!)
- Your portfolio is a conveyor belt
So don’t worry too much about craft, be worried about your idea and the scamps of your execution. I read the advertising concept book by Pete Barry and he’s a great reminder that every great ad can be sketched with a pencil and paper and look just as incredible as they do in print. Read this book and follow this philosophy.
- Kill ideas off, don’t be scared
Bruno from Dalton Maag Font foundry reminded us last week we need to commit to destroying concepts. If you work so hard on an idea and then realize it’s falling flat, let it go. To quote Bukowski: ‘Let it die. Let there be a new beginning. It’s awful. Goodnight.’
- Commitment to partners = commitment to ideas = commitment to getting them onto a page
I didn’t kill off other partners in the first few weeks working with Dan. This stopped us getting into a working rhythm generating new ideas. This has then meant our book has a load of old campaigns that need replacing. We don’t, right now, have enough ideas to replace ads dating back to the second term. Hopefully, over the weekend, we’ll have 4 new campaigns in the book. However! Maybe if I’d have done things a bit different – and I’d worked with one person at a time longer term – my work wouldn’t be so bitty and I’d have more concepts in the bag.
- Do sport and try to be normal
SCA is all consuming, but if you can get out and live a normal life you’ll stumble on some amazing insights and problems. When you find them, write them down – they’re worth nothing floating in the brain as you will forget them. Also, your work should reflect who you are, so use your own problems and solve them. I have terrible back pain so pushed out an entire campaign based on this. Show the world who you are – you are not a D&AD annual!
Sports gets you out, into a new environment whilst also keeping you mentally stable. Do not sacrifice your health by not exercising. Remember the NHS recommends 3 hours of vigorous exercise a week – a mix of aerobic, muscle building and flexing. Do it all m’dears. Do it all.
Good luck – alumni here for support always.